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Max Carl talks ‘Highway to Glory’ song, ‘American Fighter’ film

Max Carl (known for his work as the lead singer of Grand Funk Railroad and 38 Special) chatted with Digital Journal’s Markos Papadatos about the song “Highway to Glory,” which appears in the film “American Fighter.”

Max Carl
Max Carl. Photo Credit: Jim McGuire
Max Carl. Photo Credit: Jim McGuire

Max Carl (known for his work as the lead singer of Grand Funk Railroad and 38 Special) chatted with Digital Journal’s Markos Papadatos about the song “Highway to Glory,” which appears in the film “American Fighter.”

He collaborated with artist and songwriter Jamie Christopherson on the song “Highway to Glory.” “Jamie’s father and I played in a band back in the day. When Jamie came along he was this cool kid everyone wanted to be around. Well, Jamie grew up and turned out to be an amazing musician. He then became an even better musician with a Master’s degree who came to LA, worked his way up, and began to build an impressive resume. An All American success story,” he said.

“Time passed and out of the blue I get this call, “Max, it’s Jamie! Wanna write a song for a film I’m doing?’ and I said ‘absolutely.’ And off we were, penning this tune. The whole process was exciting, emotional, and soulful,” he added.

On the origin of the song, Carl remarked, “When Jamie explained the main aspects of the film’s story line it was instantly personal for me. The movie’s plot orbits around a mother and father in Iran and their son, in America; separated by continents and global politics.”

“The film takes place in 1979/80,” he said. “At that time I was in my late twenties. A dramatic event unfolded when the American Embassy in Tehran was occupied and 52 hostages were taken. The standoff lasted 444 days, every move, every day was televised. I was spellbound. We were all spellbound.”

Carl opened up about the movie American Fighter. “It takes that period and taps into its tragedies both universal and personal. The film’s young hero, played by George Kosturos, is in a desperate search to come up with the money to get his parents out of Iran,” he said.

“He’s an amateur fighter living in America and falls into an opportunity to compete for the quick cash offered in underground bare-fisted fighting matches. “The film’s director Shaun Paul Piccinino, himself a first degree Black Belt in Okinawan Karate, draws on that background to structure some exciting, realistic fight scenes. After I watched the clips I was set up by the empathetic connection to the subject matter and drawn into the hero’s story,” he elaborated.

On having the song featured in “American Fighter,” Carl said, “I felt grateful to be doing another film project again and lucky to be asked into a project with Jamie Christopherson.”

Carl spoke about being an artist in the digital age, at a time when streaming is so prevalent. “I bought my first digital musical gear in Tokyo in 1984, so I was in the game early. In this Century’s first decade I wrote music for a series on the SPEED channel called PINKS. That was an introduction to a new set of formats and opportunities in the digital world,” he said.

“And now, with the expansion of Tech and how it moves images and sound and music around it’s like constantly going from Algebra to Calculus. This is to say we are serially challenged in order to stay in the game. It’s like an endless college exam: no fun, but essential if you want to keep competing,” he added.

Regarding the key to longevity in the music business all of these decades, he said, “Embrace the new, respect the old, expect it to be hard, and keep your sense of humor.”

For young and aspiring artists, he said, “Know your strengths and play the game accordingly. Be open. Understand the difference between the Possible and the Probable. When things blow up, fall apart, try not to take it personal. Work, study, perform, and repeat.”

On his definition of success, Carl said, “Success is carving out a life by doing exactly what you love to do. In every profession, there will be bad days, but they’ll be much easier to take if you are doing the thing you love to do.”

Carl concluded about the song “Highway to Glory,” “This is a heartfelt story inspired by an actual event. A set of personal and societal tragedies that imperiled nations as well as individuals. The message is: try, keep trying, and don’t stop trying.”

To learn more about Max Carl and his music, check out his Facebook page.

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 20,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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